IT may be August, but it's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas for those behind the planning of a much-loved traditional Chester Zoo event.

The zoo has revealed its plans for its traditional Christmas event, The Lanterns.

Now in its ninth year, visitors are able to experience the zoo after hours on a set trail in the dark, taking in illuminated wildlife, colourful lanterns and encountering enchanting costumed characters.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

The wintertime celebration has previously received widespread public acclaim. This year, the zoo has heavily reduced the number of tickets available to help keep visitors safe and ensure that everyone can maintain social distancing.

Conservationists at the UK’s largest zoo say the event is ‘vital to the survival of the zoo’ following three months of closure, due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left a £5.5m scar on the wildlife charity’s finances.

Jon Turley, head of guest experience at Chester Zoo, said: “Events that help us to bring some additional income into our charity will be absolutely crucial in securing the future of our zoo and our species-saving work. That’s why we’re so, so excited to be able to bring The Lanterns back again this year.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

“With safety and social distancing firmly at the forefront of our minds, far fewer tickets have been made available for our event this time around, which might just make it an even more magical experience for those who secure a ticket.

“We’re planning to transform the zoo into a spectacular winter wonderland, featuring 11 fantastical worlds.

"Guests will be welcomed into an exotic world of colour and movement, where larger than life illuminations and animal characters await. Making a return this year will be our popular ‘Underwater’ world, which will transport visitors to the bottom of the sea where they’ll discover a giant show-stopping octopus.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

“We’ve made a few adjustments so that there will be less physical interaction with visitors this time, but we’re sure that our array of never-before-seen features will ensure guests will make memories that last a lifetime.

"We can’t wait to welcome people back to The Lanterns, see lots of big smiles on faces and, at the same time, raise valuable funds so we can continue our mission of preventing extinction as a wildlife conservation charity.”

The Lanterns has been created by the zoo in partnership with multi award-winning outdoor arts producers, Wild Rumpus.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

Tickets are now on sale for selected dates from Friday, November 13 to Wednesday, December 23. Child tickets start from £13.50 and adult tickets start from £16.